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Mouchette - Criterion Collection
Mouchette - Criterion Collection
Actors: Robert Bresson, Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Marie Cardinal, Paul Hebert
Directors: Robert Bresson, Theodor Kotulla
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Animation
UR     2007     1hr 21min

Studio: Image Entertainment Release Date: 01/16/2007


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Movie Details

Actors: Robert Bresson, Nadine Nortier, Jean-Claude Guilbert, Marie Cardinal, Paul Hebert
Directors: Robert Bresson, Theodor Kotulla
Creators: Robert Bresson, Ghislain Cloquet, Raymond Lamy, Anatole Dauman, Georges Bernanos
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Animation
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Animation
Studio: Criterion
Format: DVD - Black and White,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 01/16/2007
Original Release Date: 03/12/1970
Theatrical Release Date: 03/12/1970
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 21min
Screens: Black and White,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 23
Edition: Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Fragments of a life (without story or plot)
Nathan Andersen | Florida | 02/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm not sure that what is most unique and remarkable about Bresson is his "spiritual style," as it is often described. One might say that by showing life in all its harshness his work opens the viewer to a vision of its "fallen state" and to the way in which a kind of grace is exhibited in the stubborn refusal of his central characters to cave in to the ways of the world even in the face of harsh adversity. (Even here, Mouchette's final seemingly tragic act is shown to be in many ways a joyous one, the work of a child at play, whose counterpart in the film is the exuberant bumper car ride, where she laughs and flirts even as she is jolted and tossled about by the shock of being continuously smashed by other cars). Still, what seems most distinctive about his films is not so much the subject matter as the deliberate lack of pretense in its style, which amounts almost to a kind of refusal to let himself as filmmaker or storytelling conventions intrude on the blunt portrayal of life.

While you can certainly reconstruct the events portrayed in this film in terms of a standard plot structure, Bresson seems unwilling to plot out the story of Mouchette; in an interview contained on this dvd he says to a reporter that if he could sum up what happens to Mouchette it would be absurd to make a movie of it. He aims only to give the essentials, showing no more than what is absolutely necessary, with the implication that as viewers we feel as though the world we are shown piecemeal is much bigger and more complete than what we are permitted to see. It is not so much "Mouchette's story" that we are allowed to see as "Mouchette's world": a small world, with a few recognizable places, and recognizable routines, a few places she is permitted to go by a domineering father, and by a mother and brother whose needs place great but uncoerced demands upon her, and a few places she goes on her own, in acts of deliberate defiance, and at the same time acts of seeking someone who will not judge her or use her or place demands upon her. Because it feels like the world we enter with Bresson's films is not merely a story that is being told (even when, as in this case, it happens to be adapted from a story that had been written down by Georges Bernanos), it is something that endures, something that remains with the viewer (at least this one) long after the final image has faded.

In all of his films, but this one feels unique and special in this respect, Bresson achieves something more than merely fiction. This is not an "enjoyable" filmgoing experience, and his aim is neither to uplift or to provide a message or entertain, but simply to show. This film is entertaining and surprising in its own way, but in the sense that it is an endless source of surprise and wonder when Bresson refuses to employ cliches of any sort and yet manages to make the events he portrays directly intelligible, without any hint of manipulation of audience emotions or expectations. Not to be missed by anyone who is interested in the potentials of film, or in the artistic recreation of life in both its everyday and its tragic dimensions."
A grim, moving and superb film
lexo-2 | 07/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'd seen a bunch of Bresson films before I ever heard of Mouchette, and had always regarded him as the director who, while I wouldn't necessarily want to watch his films to the exclusion of anyone else's, speaks to what's best in me; Bresson's work has an uncompromising directness that no other film-maker has ever matched, in my experience. Watching his films, you feel that something is being imparted to you that you needed to know; in this respect, he's utterly unlike the vast majority of directors, who seek merely to provide diversion and laffs. His influence on Scorsese, Fassbinder and Kaurismaki is undeniable, and Paul Schrader has blatantly ripped him off on more than one occasion (though we forgive Schrader because he is himself such a good director). Mouchette is not the most famous of Bresson's films but it's one of the best I've seen - though admittedly this is misleading, as most of Bresson's films after the late 40s are masterpieces. Mouchette's life is almost unrelentingly awful; her mother is dying, and most of her verbal contact with Mouchette consists of orders to look after the baby and get her some more gin; her father takes whatever money she earns, and her brother never says anything at all. She lives in a grotty village in a totally unattractive-looking part of Provence, where the local boys have nothing better to do than drop their pants in her direction, and where her sole recreation is throwing mud at her schoolmates. Nadine Nortier, one of a string of non-professional actors to be burdened with carrying a Bresson movie, is stunning as the teenaged Mouchette. Few cinematic leading ladies have been so utterly unglamorous. Her hair is straggly and greasy-looking, her clothes are outsized hand-me-downs and her shoes are enormous clogs that clack loudly as she walks, yet Nortier never loses contact with Mouchette's livid anger and spiritual dignity. When professional actresses cry, they tend to crease up their faces and emote; Nortier stares blankly into the middle distance as the tears stream down her face. Mouchette is an extraordinary film, not one to be watched as part of a night of videos, unless the other videos also happen to be directed by Bresson. It's one of Bresson's most unrelentingly sombre films, but the outcome, although tragic, is not nihilistic (as, arguably, was the director's later study of disaffected youth, "Le Diable probablement"). Not a feelgood movie, but by no means a nothing-means-anything movie, either, which is a considerable achievement by anyone's standards, and by the standards of contemporary movies, an outright miracle."
From Shirley Jackson to Jim Thompson
Yumi | LA CA USA | 06/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The first scene is of a bird caught in a snare fluttering madly to escape, then a hand rescues the bird and lets it free.Bresson depicts the utter malice than can lay behind a rural community to the abject meanness of poverty.
Asked to sing along in school, her voice was pretty until she hit the high notes and then she was ostracized by her teacher. What was there ever in her life to sing about? Altho at home, doing her chores her voice shines with sweetness

And her only moment of joy on the amusement park car flirting with possibly the only smile in her life, taken away in exchange for a night with a poacher.
It's amazing how her everyday face is a frown, except when she is tending to her dying mother when her face is beautifically transformed to absolute love and adoration.

And I don't believe Bresson asks you to feel sorry for her. He is just showing us. Mouchette finally needs to confess something to her mother, possibly the only time she has asked for help or advice but at that moment , her mother dies.
That day, an old lady in town gives mouchette a shroud for her mother and a beautiful dress, the kind you might wear to confirmation or a baptism. She has had only had tattered rags and ill fitting clunky shoes all her life.Altho my description may sound melodramatic, the movie is not.It doesn't try to play on your emotions.The last scene is haunting and unforgettable.This is a most beautiful movie."
Mouchette, a twelve year old village girl, a great character
lexo-2 | 03/10/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Mouchette is without any doubt one of the best films ever made or to be made. In almost sacral serenity it shows us the last three days of the life of a twelve year old very poor village girl. Mouchette survives in the strenght of her character and soul, even when we have to watch her commit suicide. I remember, in the seventies Mrs.Susan Sonntag appriciated this film very much. The story cannot be told by its plot, because it is the most original way of filmmaking Bresson invented, that makes us understand, what happenes to Mouchette. There is nothing comparable to Bressons work, which is deeply transcendental. It has religious impact and surves us with great precision."